Beach Access and Park Issues
April 25, 2012

Cape Hatteras Music Festival to benefit CHAPA is May 5

By IRENE NOLAN


“Beach music” will take on a new meaning on Saturday, May 5, when some 40 Outer Banks musicians will be playing all afternoon and into the night to raise money to restore more reasonable public access to the beaches of the Cape Hatteras National Seashore.

The First Annual Cape Hatteras Music Festival is being organized by the Cape Hatteras Music Guild to benefit the Cape Hatteras Access Preservation Alliance in its legal fight against the National Park Service and its off-road vehicle management plan and final rule.

“Think of it as a nine-hour music jam,” says Mike Fahey of Frisco, a retired businessman and amateur musician, who is spearheading the festival for the guild.

The gates will open at 1 p.m. at the Fessenden Center in Buxton, and the musicians will be jamming from 1:30 until 11 p.m.

“They are well-known local acts,” says Fahey, “and they are all Outer Banks musicians.”

The acts include Rory Kelleher, WaterHigh, Eli Thompson, Sean Bendula, Hal & Bruce, Banjo Island, Jack Quidley, Jamie and Mark, Mojo Collins, EZ Malone, Jones Potion, the Blind Prophets, and Soul Rebel.

The musicians are all donating their time to the beach access cause, and Fahey notes that the event was the idea of the musicians.

“It all started with a few local musicians sitting around at Pop’s and talking about beach access,” says Fahey.

They decided it was time that the community of musical artists on the island did something to help, and the Cape Hatteras Music Festival was born. 

That was just six weeks ago, and the guild members have let no grass grow under their feet as they have pulled everything together in a short time.

The artists took their idea to CHAPA – an alliance of pro-access groups, including the Outer Banks Preservation Association, the Cape Hatteras Angler Club, and the North Carolina Beach Buggy association.

CHAPA, which filed a lawsuit against the Department of Interior and the National Park Service on Feb. 9 to stop the ORV plan and final rule, embraced the idea.  They especially embraced the idea that Fahey and his fellow guild members would do all the heavy lifting on organizing the festival.  The pro-access groups are run by volunteers, almost all of whom work and/or own businesses and are stretched thin when it comes to fundraising.

The guild sought and received permission from Dare County to have the festival at the county’s Fessenden Center.

Fahey can’t say enough good things about the county employees, especially in the Parks and Recreation Department, who have helped the organizers along the way. And he adds that he is also grateful to the Dare County Sheriff’s Office, county Emergency Medical Services, other community groups and business folks who have offered sponsorships and help in many ways.

About a dozen local artists and artisans are giving CHAPA a $25 donation to set up booths during the festival.  And there will be several food vendors, who are donating $50 to sell barbecue, hamburgers, hot dogs, and other good things.   Among them are Crazy Johnny Conner’s Traveling Grill, the Git’r Dun Grill with Steve Groves, the Channel Bass restaurant, and the Freshman Class of Cape Hatteras Secondary School, which will raise money selling hamburgers and hot dogs.

There will also be a 50-50 raffle, door prizes, and a small auction.

The festival organizers aim to make the event economical for everyone.  Admission is a $5 donation to CHAPA for adults and children over 12, and $3 for children ages 5-12.

There will be parking in two large lots next to the Shipwreck Grill and across from the Outer Banks Motel, owned by Carol Dillon, an avid access supporter.  Carol and Scott Busbey have also agreed to let their property in front of the Osprey Center be used if needed.

Fahey and his helpers have put up more than 400 posters at businesses all up and down the Outer Banks in the past month.  The business owners, he said, are totally supportive, and only two have refused the poster – because of store or corporate policies.

“Some of those business owners are just hanging on by their fingernails,” Fahey says, noting that many have taken a double punch from loss of access and Hurricane Irene.

“There’s just so much resentment, anger, and despair about what the Park Service has done,” he said.

Fahey notes that the festival has been dubbed the “first annual” because organizers hope that it’s just the beginning of an event that has the potential to become a major economic development tool for Hatteras Island in the slower time between Easter and Memorial Day.

“If we are lucky,” Fahey says, “we will have 500 or 1,000 folks in attendance.”

But, down the road, he muses, there could be several thousand people descending on Hatteras Island the first weekend to May to hear “beach” music and to stay in island rental cottages, hotels, motels, and campgrounds and dine in island restaurants.

You can get more information on the First Annual Cape Hatteras Music Festival on the music guild’s website, www.capehatterasmusicguild.org.

(Editor’s note:  Some readers have asked if they can contribute if they can’t attend the festival. The answer is “yes.” Go to the Outer Banks Preservation Association banner ad at the top of the IFP Beach Access Page.  Click on the ad for information on donating.)

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